March 11, 2019 Subject:
Not exactly a review, more of an explanation
Interesting... those were wild and woolly days back then... I didn't know Aardvark was selling a C-64 conversion of this game, and I certainly know the author was never paid a cent for this version.
By way of explanation- This game was originally written for the Ohio Scientific Instruments (OSI) C1P computer which came with a whopping 4K of RAM, although most people coughed up the $150 extra for the expansion all the way up to 8K, which is the reason there is so little detail in the game. Every byte had to be squeezed out to fit any kind of complexity into an 8K game.
There's no HELP available for the same reason, sadly. I don't remember for certain whether Aardvark provided a sheet with the available commands or not, but in case anyone's actually interested in trying the game, here's a listing of a few that I remember..
You can LOOK at an object, to see if there's any more detail available, or LOOK AROUND to bring up the general description of your location.
You can go in the directions listed as "Obvious Exits", but you can also GO other things (which will be important in the game) that may not be immediately obvious.
You can take objects and carry them with you. If you can't take something you'll usually be told.
Obviously drops items.
Lists what you're carrying.
Probably more, but it's been a long time.
The available commands are severely limited because of the memory constraints, and the game isn't shy about telling you that you've typed something it doesn't understand.
Note also that you must type the entire command word, but can abbreviate the object to the first TWO letters. So you don't have to completely type out things like LOOK SPOCK'S POSITION, LOOK SP will do. Same with GO direction.
One important thing... watch the descriptions of the locations. Important details may appear from time to time which can easily be missed.
Especially tricky is that things may have locations of their own, so examine EVERYTHING.
Sorry, no help for the maze. It's been like almost 40 years, I'm surprised I remember this much even.
The game IS mappable, and as I recall, the maze maps to the layout of the ship.
One hint however... whatever the accident was that crippled the ship, it jammed most of the stupid doors. However, if you've watched Star Trek at all, you'll know there are other ways of getting around the ship. (No, not the transporter, that's been disabled too.)
One thing that's quite noticeable is that the testing fell into one of the most devious traps of the software developer... it was tested from the point of view of someone who already knew what to expect. Now, after decades of software development it's a cardinal rule to have things tested by people who are totally unfamiliar with the program. Back at the beginning of time the biggest concern was making sure there were no (obvious) bugs and that things worked the way they were intended.
As such, I can see now that there should NOT be a time penalty for LOOKing at things. It certainly doesn't take a full minute to LOOK TRICORDER, and with the screen scrolling away LOOK AROUND to get the description back shouldn't incur a time penalty. Mea Culpa.
And I can see that there should have been a "out" for being lost in the maze. Like after so many wrong turns just give you the damn exit and make you feel good you finally found it.
The conversions to other computer platforms that I actually DID do generally expanded the program to take advantage of improved features of the target computer, so this game should have had the descriptions of things and locations expanded at the very least, which would have helped a lot in keeping the player from getting lost so easily, and to make sure the subtle clues weren't missed.
(Remember, LOOK everything.)
Blast from the past...
(This has probably already exceeded the text limit whatever it might be... I have a tendency to do that... but... if not...
SPOILER *** SPOILER *** SPOILER
(The phillips screwdriver is in a pocket in the spacesuit. Haven't had any death threats about that in almost 40 years now... let's keep it that way)